TWO popular local hiking trails scooped two major provincial awards at the recent 2019 Lilizela Tourism Awards held in Mthatha – placing Kouga firmly on the tourism adventure map. The Chokka Trail and the Baviaans Camino, organised by Eric and Esti Stewart from Baviaans to Bay Adventures in St Francis Bay, received the Best Visitors Experience Awards.Duneridge Country House won the four-star country house category, while Cape St Francis Resort’s Beach Break won the five-star shared accommodation category.Not new to the adventure scene, the Chokka Trail received the National Lilizela Award for Best Visitors Experience in the Beach Category for three consecutive years – 2016 to 2018. Owner-operators, Eric and Esti, hope to receive this award again in 2019.“Receiving the award for Best Visitors Experience in the Action and Adventure Category for Baviaans Camino made us very proud, as this is one tough category,” said Eric.“We hope to bring the national award home, as it belongs in the adventure pro-vince.” Previous national winners include Tsitsi-kamma’s Untouched Adventures in Tsitsikamma and Face Adrenaline Bungy Jump at Bloukrans Bridge.Established in 2013, the Chokka Trail is a 62km four-day/ three-night slackpacking hiking trail between Oyster Bay, Cape St Francis and St Francis Bay. “It is much more than a hiking trail. It is a true hiking holiday: hikers also enjoy a canal cruise and calamari tasting at Port St Francis – we showcase everything the greater St Francis offers,” says Esti. “We have amazing partners in the Oyster Kaya and Duneridge Country House, as well as the Cape St Francis Resort.” The Baviaans Camino, also a slackpacking trail launched in 2016, is one of only two hiking trails that is in partnership with the Eastern Cape Parks and Tourism Agency. “What makes this hiking trail quite unique is that it can be done on horse back too,” says Eric. Trained trail horses are supplied by horse master Hercules van Huyssteen, who guides the groups on one of his SA Boerperde from his Moria Stud in Kareedouw.“It is a very tough hike, 95km over four days with a total elevation of 3 600m. Days are long, and hikers have to dig deep to make it over the Baviaanskloof Mountains and the Kouga Mountain Range,” he says.Accommodation is in old farm houses and meals are catered in true Baviaans style by local farmers.To make the trails more accessible to all kinds of hikers, both trails are now available to those hikers who would still like to carry their packs and make their own food. The Lilizela Awards are organised by South African Tourism to recognise and reward tourism players and businesses who work passionately and with pride to deliver world class products, and to celebrate those who make a remarkable impact on tourism in South Africa. The national Lilizela Award ceremony will be held in Pretoria on Saturday, November 9.For more information about the two award-winning hiking trails, contact Esti Stewart at 073 825 0835.Alternatively, visit www.chokkatrail.co.za and www.baviaanscamino.com.